Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Snowy Spring

Good friends Robin, Dineen, and Ronie are no doubt looking out their windows at green grass and perhaps even a few green shoots. They are probably not tapping on their own laptops with a quilt upon their frigid ligaments. I, on the other hand, am staring at a lovely white landscape and a steady stream of more to come. I haven't felt warm in so long that I'm sure I've entered into a state of semi-preservation. Best if consumed before June 1st, 2063.

As twisted as it may seem, though, I'm rather enjoying the scenery. We Michiganders learn to hate winter with ferocity by the time we're 20. Much like the natives on King Kong's island, though, we've also come to need that which we fear the most. You see, sometime around mid-February, we begin to wonder if this is the year it finally happens. Winter will never end. We envision ourselves huddled around the fireplace, mugs of hot chocolate warming our fingers, while more daring souls go out to light the 4th of July fireworks.

By the end of March, however, we've seen the mercury tickle fifty degrees once or twice, so we know it's just a matter of time before the starlings nest in our barbecue grills and '67 Mustangs start cruising the streets. Oh, yes, and the Tigers shoot for another pennant with 5 players batting over .300 and not one pitcher with an ERA less than 12.

So this, one of the final snowfalls of winter, is a bit of a blessing to me. I love being a northerner. I think we should have the same pride in our roots as our southern brethren. Don't get me wrong, I love Dixie. I love the warmth, the hospitality, and those wonderful accents. But most of those folks will never know what it's like to walk through the woods and actually hear individual snowflakes hitting the ground. They'll never get to marvel at the shapes snowdrifts take on at the edge of a roof. They'll never look out at a full moon on the snow and swear it was midday.

God has blessed me with all this. As well as a wonderful wife, beautiful kids, and a home with lots of big windows to adore His creation. Forgive my sappiness. It's my backlash against taking life too seriously, getting caught up in the worries of business, and forgetting that it's all very temporary.

Like the snow on my grass. I think it's time to take a walk.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's Not Personal, It's Business

That's one of my favorite lines from You've Got Mail. In a way, I believe it to be true. After all, business in a free-market economy (certain presidential candidates may want to look up the definition for that) is nothing more than a chess game. You plan, maneuver, go on the attack, and try to take as much of the market share away from your opponent as possible. Life is temporary anyway, as is any business. Nobody is physically or emotionally hurt. Most of the time.

My problem is that there are those who would use this mantra as an excuse to sink an opponent by any means necessary, much of it slightly left of honest. And when you peer into a business and find that it's not a boardroom of cigar puffing millionaires, but a group of men and women with families struggling to get by in a very unforgiving world, suddenly it feels very personal.

This creates a quandary for the Christian. Competition must exist for a free market economy to work. But you must be willing to sink an opponent and, in the process, destroy the lives of everyone working there (admittedly "destroy" is an exaggeration, these conditions are also temporary).

So, as someone who loves the Lord and wants to do His will, how do I operate as a businessman in this kind of ruthless environment?

I think the basic principles of Christianity apply here. First, I must forgive those who've dealt unfairly with me. No, The Donald wouldn't approve. He'd say I should sink 'em fast and let them be a warning to anyone else who'd trifle with my business. But the Lord trumps Trump. I'll go with forgiveness and move on.

Second, the golden rule needs to be put into play. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That goes for customers, employees, and competitors. The golden rule may result in bronze profits in the short run, but faith will never let me down in the long run.

Third, it's not personal, it's business. Wait! Isn't that where we started? Yes, it is, but it needs to point to me, not to my opponent. If I fail, if the business fails, life will go on. I'm still saved by grace, this is still temporary, and, honestly, I and everyone in the company will move on to bigger and better things.

Because success and failure are not just measured by wealth. If a man makes millions at his business, but his marriage is in shambles, he's a failure. If a woman has all she ever wanted, but has lost the love of her husband or the respect of her children, she's a failure. Would I go so far as to say The Donald is a failure because his first wife divorced him? Let's just say I wouldn't trade what I have for what he has. I have great respect for his business savvy, but I'll take a rain check on that marriage advice.

I could go on with this, and maybe I will in a book someday (I know, some day is today!), but I have to convince myself of these principles first. I do that by writing them down. To see it on the screen makes it more than a hidden belief. It's here for my friends and family to see. So when I get obsessed with my business, one of them can give me a gentle kick in the pants and remind me what's important.

Life is personal, and it's my business.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Here he goes again

My friends who will check in to see if I've actually posted something recently will, no doubt, roll their eyes and say, "Another name change on the blog, Ron? Would you just settle on one thing or another?"

My answer is "No." Nothing is permanent, especially on the blogosphere. I have several passions in my life: Jesus, my family, and writing. Expect any one of those topics to surface from time to time, with a smattering of fly-fishing, politics, and hunting.

Read my blog if you wish. There is certainly no shortage of other blogs to read or websites to visit. This is mostly a place for me to get the rambles out of my system before I write something printable. The spiritual journey is a long one...very long. I expect to never run out of topics. If you're looking for a place to make you a better writer, go visit one of the links on the left. Don't ask me, man, I'm just faking it. If you're looking to be the perfect husband, please let me know when you've found the secret. If you're looking to be the world's best hunter...uh, it's a struggle for just to stay awake in the tree stand.

But if you're searching for truth, so am I. I say searching because it never really ends. I've found the source of all truth, but He's still teaching me. I like to read about it. I like to write about it. So there it is. I'm back. I'll probably be alone here, but I'm writing even if you're not reading.

I'll keep my friends up to date on my latest ventures, they'll be surprised to learn that I'm steering toward the dark side (non-fiction).

Until I feel like posting again. See-yah.